When my husband and I decided we would take on the big, life-changing task of procreation, we pretty much knew going into it that we'd stick with just one kid. My husband is the youngest of four, and he often dreamed of being an only child. And I have one brother, but he's a half-brother and 10 years older, so it's as if I were an only child. Between my husband and me, we saw nothing wrong with a one-child family.
But a year or two after the birth of our daughter, we began to notice a trend. Couples from our Mommy & Me groups as well as friends, relatives, and the fellow parents at our daughter's preschool were welcoming their second, third and occasionally fourth child. And as their household body count grew, ours stayed the same. We believed we were "one and done."
There were other factors that contributed to our decision to just have one child. We couldn't imagine affording another one, especially since we live in one of the most expensive cities in America. We couldn't imagine having the bandwidth for managing another life. We couldn't imagine spreading our love to another kid, even though every parent says they have an endless supply of love to dish out. But the biggest deciding factor? The opinion of our own child.
When she was about 3 years old, I began to ask our precocious and wise-beyond-her-years daughter whether she would like a little brother or little sister. And since the first time I asked her, her response has always been exactly the same: a loud and defiant "no." Sometimes it wasn't just "no," but sometimes it was "no, no, no, no, no," or "no way," or occasionally a "never, no way, never, never, never." She is a girl who knows what she wants, or in this case, doesn't want.
... the biggest thing was that she didn't want to share us.
When she was old enough to express her feelings in cohesive words, I began to ask her the reasons why she didn't want a sibling. And her answers were practical and emotional. Almost all her friends had siblings, and she noticed their fighting more than their playing, and wanted nothing to do with that. She didn't want to share her toys. She didn't want to share her room. But the biggest thing was that she didn't want to share us. She simply wanted us all to herself.
This is a sentiment that many children feel, but one that parents usually don't let affect their decision. But we are a family. We believe in making our decisions together, from picking what we are going to have for dinner, to where to go on the holiday weekend, to whether we should make additions to our family.
I must admit, though, there are moments where I wish she did have a sibling, someone to play with, to share her life with, to be there for her when we are gone. But in our guts, we all seem to know that our family is complete. Small, happy, but complete. We are all, indeed, one and done.